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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Nightmares Don't Have to Come True

Mets fans will be nobody’s World Series sidebar in 2010, and that’s all right by me.

Not The Yankees qualified Friday night. Not The Phillies sealed the deal Saturday night. The Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants deserve a dual round of applause from all of us for making us happily irrelevant over the next week or two.

More irrelevant than fans of a 79-83 team already are at this stage of the calendar.

Last October/November was Hades on Earth. Its repercussions resonated clear to this past August when, sitting among hordes of gracious defending National League Champion Phillies fans in Citizens Bank Park, I had one of the most detestable thoughts I’ve ever had in my four-plus decades of loving the game of baseball:

I’m glad the Yankees beat you last year.

With the exception of Dwight Gooden’s 1996 no-hitter and, begrudgingly, the night Bobby Murcer drove home two ninth-inning runs to honor his late friend Thurman Munson in 1979, I’ve never been glad the Yankees beat anybody, certainly not in a proactive sense, definitely not in a retroactive sense. I instantly reconsidered and withdrew that nominally pro-Yankees thought, but I didn’t replace it with I’m sorry you didn’t beat the Yankees last year.

I’m incapable of wishing any good for any Phillies fan after the last few years…and I don’t hate the Phillies with anything close to the passion that I hate the Yankees. I still maintain the Phillies are a bit of a passing phancy in terms of blood rivalry. If we’re ever in another Wild Card scrap with the Cubs, for instance, I’ll probably despise them just as much as I have our neighbors to the south. But don’t mistake that for leniency toward Philadelphia or the slightest bit of empathy regarding the removal of their National League crown Saturday night.

It’s good that the Phillies lost — it’s every bit as good as the Yankees having lost. No team, no matter how admirably they are said to play the game, doesn’t get on everybody else’s nerves by winning regularly. It happened to the likable 49ers when they had an NFL dynasty. It happened to the onetime underdog Patriots. When the Braves were winning pennants in the ’90s, they began to wear out their welcome. And the Yankees, even if you’d never heard of them before they reignited their winning ways fifteen years ago (and I’m pretty sure a lot of their latter-day loyalists hadn’t), could not help but engender disgust after a couple of World Series triumphs.

Unless you were an authentic day-in, day-out fan of a team before it landed in the midst of a great run (children who are just discovering sports excepted), you have little business associating yourself with that team. You’re a Philies fan from Pennsylvania? You’re a Yankees fan from Westchester? We may want nothing to do with you, but you are who you are. But you’re some success-lover from somewhere else who thinks this is the way to go just because there’s winning involved? Get lost right now. And you know there are tons of Yankees fans from nowhere near New York and not a few kilos of Phillies fans from nowhere near Philadelphia who have come into their franchise of choice just because they’ve been winning…until this weekend, anyway.

Technology may have eliminated plenty of geographic barriers to fandom, but I still believe you need a damn good alibi to be a fan of a high-flying team from a place you have absolutely no connection to beyond “they win a lot.” (I don’t much care about the NBA, but I already hate anybody not from South Florida who’s suddenly a huge Miami Heat fan.)

There has to be something organic about loving a team. And then, no matter where you’re from, you have to hang in there after the glitter fades. When the Phillies aren’t defending champions of anything anymore, not even our division (and they are still definitely that), let me know what a fantastic home-field advantage Citizens Bank Park is. Let me know if those towels are still waving. Let me know if their minions are still finding their way to Flushing. My guess is probably not. The hardcore Phillies fans, the ones who aren’t police blotter fodder, will solider on. But it’s likely to get lonelier down there after a fashion, and it’s likely to become football season a lot sooner, the way it was happening not very long ago.

We’re just happy there will be no more baseball games there this year, just as there will be none at Yankee Stadium III…just as there are none at Citi Field and 25 other big league venues. We all have our biases. Ours is for a team that’s currently idle and against a couple of others who are also currently idle.

The Giants and the Rangers deserve our respect and consideration on their own merit. They have the former and we’ll surely give them the latter as the World Series approaches and ensues. But for right now, it’s enough that they were Not The Phillies and Not The Yankees across two sets of six games apiece. They were magnificent in those roles.

14 comments to Nightmares Don’t Have to Come True

  • Metsadhd

    Stephen Hawking go to your room and repent.
    The back to back losses of the dark side proves without a shadow of doubt that there is a higher power.

    If our beloved blue and orange can’t do it, at least we can take solace and comfort in the fact that those most abominable to us can’t either.
    Called third strike to A-Roid was extra sweet.

  • mikeinbrooklyn

    As a whole, I hate the Phillies. Although, on an individual basis, I actually really like a few of them: Halladay is so good, and seems really classy; Utley, the same; and I love Werth, mainly because he looks like a serial killer but talks like Mr. Mellow. I do NOT like Victorino or Howard, who I think are overrated and would be nobodies if they didn’t play in such a bandbox.

    My hatred, though, for the Phillies, stems from one “man” and one “man” alone: the utterly classless, loudmouth, overrated, Jimmy Rollins. During their parade, a time when he should have been celebrating their World Series victory, instead he takes to the stage to rub it in to the Mets. I still don’t know what the Mets could have possibly done to him (other than compete against him, which a whole lot of other teams did too). Since then, I root against him individually and his team collectively.

    That having been said, you’re right: in a few years, I won’t care about them anymore than I care about the Nats right now.

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    Who do you root against now?

  • BennyAyala

    On the Giants’ bench sits $45 million in contractual disappointments in the form of Barry Zito ($18 million), Aaron Rowland ($12), Edgar Renteria ($9) and Mark DeRosa ($6).

    And therein lies the difference between Giants’ ownership and the Wilpons: The former tries to look beyond its financial missteps and do what it takes to overcome them, while the latter insists on making lemonade out of lemons.

  • Jim

    I have to admit I don’t hate the Phillies the way most Mets fans do, (They are just the most recent team we hate like the Braves,Cardinals or Cubs or whoever in years past)….It was sweet however to see Ryan Howard do his Carlos Beltran tribute to end the series. I am just happy the Yanks are not there because the only team I hate as much as them are the Dallas Cowboys!

  • Ken K. in NJ

    The Mets actually got a mention in the National Radio broadcast last night (heard locally on 1050). They were disucssing the fact that Cody Ross led the NL in Batting Average on changeups. (I didn’t realize there was such a ranking, although of course it doesn’t suprise me.)
    They went on to mention that Yadier Molina similarly led the NL in this category in 2006 although he only batted 219 overall. And they proceeded to point out it was exactly the pitch Aaron Heilman threw to him in a certain clutch situation in the NLCS that year.

  • Hunt Boyer 66

    This is the first World Series I will be able to watch and enjoy since 2005. As a resident of Philly-media-dominated South Jersey, I am relieved beyond belief. It’s so bad down here for Mets fans that I actually had to root for the Yankees last year. I never want to have to go through that again. Funny how Ryan Howard standing there reminded me of a certain Mr. Beltran in 2006. Love it.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by You Gotta Believe! and Michael Baranowski, Greg Prince. Greg Prince said: The 2010 World Series: Now With 100% Less Bad Taste. #Mets #NotThePhillies #Giants #Sheadenfreude […]

  • Andee

    Well, the Giants did let Zito pitch all during the regular season, right? Even in the second half when he stunk most of the time? And they let Rowand and Renteria and DeRosa play when they were healthy, right? The Giants got lucky. They found Ross and Burrell and Huff on the scrap heap and they produced. And the Dodgers and Padres rolled over and played dead for them. I don’t think they have any great secret o’winning, other than knowing where to buy rabbits’ feet.

    But I’m sure glad they got ’em this year, lemme tell ya. My favorite joke that I’ve read about the postseason so far:

    Q: What can you buy with $393 million?
    A: A final called third strike in two championship series.

    BAHAHAHAHAHA. Maybe now they’ll shaddap about Beltran.

    • The Mets and the Giants opened the second half (technically the portion of the schedule that followed the All-Star break) in San Francisco. The Giants were 47-41, four games behind the first-place Padres and two games behind the Wild Card co-leading Rockies and Dodgers.

      They were also one game behind the Mets. Go figure.

  • Lawrence Miles

    Met fans should worry about the relevancy of their own team before they comment on the irrelevancy of others.

  • kd bart

    Judging by the comments I read at the Philly papers and blogs, it won’t be long. I’ve never seen a fan base turn on a team and in particular, Ryan Howard, so quickly. Terms like “Clowns” and “Pathetic” were all over the comments. A WS championship and two straight trips to the WS and it seems that that their fan base felt entitled to another trip to the WS. You figure with their team history, mostly failure for over a century, they would appreciate more what they have with this group but they don’t. In a couple years, they’ve become as insufferable as winners as Yankee and Red Sox fans have in the past decade.

  • Well-meaning Phils Troll

    While I do love the large collection of red at road games and try to foster a “the more the merrier” approach, I must admit that as a season ticket holder from ’85 to ’93 and ’04 – Present (my dad gave up after the strike and I wasn’t financially solvent enough to afford my own plan until ’04), I do find myself annoyed with the bandwagon bunch. When a teenaged girlf asked me this year what the “HK” patch on my jersey meant, I shook my head out of sadness.

    But don’t mistake people’s frustrations with Howard’s disappointing year (culminating in and summed up by his final, Beltran-esque at bat) as a sudden derailment of the bandwagon train.

    We’re simply not satisfied without a World Series ring or a topic to complain about. Barring one of the two (and, shockingly, we’ve even been known to marry both together), we’re generally miserable.

    I won’t pretend that should the Phils suddenly begin to suck out loud, the Bank will continue to sell out (I’ve been to far too many Mets home games at the Vet to indulge in that delusion), but it’ll take a lot more than one choke-job in the NLCS to kill the current phandom mojo.